Do you have a dream team, or is there a little dysfunction? You’ve got good people, but you just can’t really seem to make across the finish line. What kind of toxic team do you have…
Constant Crisis Team – This is a team that really knows how to pull things together in a crisis, but the problem seems t be that is the only time they can get together. Living by the triage of emergencies and never taking time to communicate and work together as a team.
Status Quo Team – Doing just enough to get by, never reaching their peak potential. The team is the best at being a solid “mediocre”.
Sidelines Team – When you are not the lead dog the scenery never changes. This team is comfortable letting others solve the problems and take the reigns. Great at following instruction, but never taking the risk to step outside of the box.
Passive Aggressive Team – The strategic planning session has just concluded and everyone seems really excited, but when it comes to implementing you seem to have team “no action”. You are not sure if the team does not care, or is intentionally making sabotaging moves.
Emotional Roller Coaster – If your team does not save the “drama for their mama” and instead sucks all of the fun out of work. The venting, the ranting, the secrets, and the general negativity all point to complete disengagement.
No matter what kind of disengagement symptoms your team is showing the core of the dysfunction comes from the same foundational inadequacies. In the New York Times best-selling book “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni (over 2 million books sold) teaches that at the core of every toxic team are the same central deficiencies, and your team must go through the same 5 essential phases realized in order, to achieve results.
Step 1 – Rebuild Trust – Team relationships are like any relationship and must have trust at it’s base, or everything can turn sour. Team members need to know, understand and respect each member’s unique talents. The team needs to experience many instances of follow through and credibility, as well as an environment without blame and punishment. The vulnerable trust that can be built allows people to take risks without fear, reveal weaknesses and errors without burying things. The hard work of building this kind of trust makes the team ready for the next stages of team building.
Step 2 – Productive Conflict – Most teams are familiar with conflict, but how about productive conflict? When problems arise in a company it is important to get to the root of the problem and nip it in the bud. That is easier said than done. If a team’s environment is such that identifying problems or suggesting unpopular solutions is met with ire from the boss, or anger and penalties from the other team members, then it becomes quickly apparent that it is not safe to take these risks. The result of that is the root cause the problem may neve be truly uncovered and lots of effort may be gone to not solving the problem for good.
Step 3 – Gain commitment – Commitment is a function of 2 things, clarity and buy-in. People do not want to lay all of their cards on the table and be “all in” with commitment to something unless they feel certain it will be a winner. What if they are the only one that takes it seriously? Then they are left holding the bag. What if they commit to something they don’t believe in, and then it turns out to have zero results and makes them look bad. To gain commitment from your team there must be a feeling of certainty and consensus.
Step 4 – Accountability – Once we have foundational phases 1-3 established, the team is ready to work on accountability. Specifically the team’s ability to respectfully hold team members accountable, and call them out when goals are not being achieved. Change the culture so that missing deadlines, shorting deliverables and not working at your best never flies under the radar. Having an accountability culture will help a team get more realistic about what they can accomplish.
Step 5 – Enjoy Great Results – There is more to this final stage than results falling from the sky. This phase will require attention to results. Measurement, reflection and behavior rewarded helps make this phase be actualized.
Building a cohesive team may take time, patience and hard work, but the think of what your business can do with everyone swimming at their best, all in the same direction.